Organic- Is it just business or the first step to health? by Adolf Jana

Organic food is becoming more and more popular. The sections with organic food in supermarkets grow bigger and in some countries there are even all organic supermarkets.

However, even though the popularity is rising, scientists keep arguing whether organic food actually contains more nutrients than conventional food and whether they are better for us.

Oftentimes I hear that organic is just a business and that there’s no added value to it.

So is organic food better and why? Should you buy it? What should you follow when you buy organics?

Why is there so much confusion around it?

So many studies have been conducted, yet there are big differences in their results.

Findings of several studies which are against the concept of organic food say that consumption of organic cannot be recommended, because there isn’t sufficient evidence that it contains more nutrients (1, 2, 3).

On the other hand a number of researches came to a conclusion that organic food contains for example higher amounts of vitamin C, zinc, iron and antioxidants (4567).

There are many factors which affect the results:

  • When the fruits and vegetables are harvested
  • Weather during the year
  • Quality of soil
  • Animal feed

These and other influences have a big effect on the amount of nutrients in food. In the end it is a very complex topic, which is not simply black and white.

… and we shouldn’t forget the influence of lobby on both sides of the barricade. Even the best scientists make “mistakes”.

However, the study mentioned previously analyzed 343 researches and came to the following conclusion: organic food contains significantly higher amounts of antioxidants, some minerals and vitamins.

Amount of nutrients is only one of the decision points

We don’t buy organic food only because it may contain more nutrients. The amount of pesticide residues and other compounds (e.g. antibiotics) plays a significant role as well.

Regarding this the studies are in agreement – organic food is better.

The well-known Stanford study was careful in its conclusions and stated that by consuming organic food we can decrease the risk of exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Very interesting outcomes of this study were further discussed here.

Analysis of a few hundred studies resulted in these intriguing results:

  • Organic food contains 48% less Cadmium. Cadmium is a highly toxic metal, which accumulates in the body. Besides the fact that it is carcinogenic, it also causes many other problems.
  • Pesticide residue occurrence is 4x higher in conventionally produced crops (7).

It is said that the amounts of these residues are still well below the safety limits and there is nothing to be worried about. There are different opinions regarding this.

However, nobody knows what happens when we are exposed to a mixture of different dangerous compounds every day. That’s scientifically hard to prove.

That’s why I think it’s better to be careful.

But not at the cost that you’ll be eating less vegetables or fruits.

And that’s not all

Organic also provides further gains, especially in regards to the environment.

Concept of (eco)logical agriculture is in comparison to conventional agriculture wonderful and provides many benefits to the environment such as:

  • It’s more considerate towards the land
  • Animals live in better conditions
  • It’s more respectful to the surrounding nature.

Organic: to buy or not?

Most of the time organic food is more expensive but you are also getting better quality. As the main advantage I see that in comparison to conventional food it contains only a minimal amount of residues.

That’s especially important for children, pregnant women and also for people who suffer from health problems. If you have an undeveloped or weakened body, then the more you burden it the more stress it has to deal with.

Nevertheless, even if you are healthy the role of good quality food in regards to prevention is no less important.

Another advantage is that producers don’t usually use so many pointless additives for processing the food.

However, at the same time I’m adding – all that glitters is not gold.

Organic doesn’t equal healthy food

People very often buy organic with a good feeling that if it’s organic it must be healthy or that it’s a “healthy snack“. Unfortunately it’s not so simple.

With some products it simply doesn’t matter what kind of quality you buy. Agave nectar is a great example. Whether you buy it organic or not it won’t do good to you.

Another example is processed food. Organic or not junk food is always junk food.

The way the food is processed is also important. When you buy organic milk you get a better quality. However, if it was pasteurized with the UHT (ultra high temperature) method then the gain is not so big anymore, because during the UHT pasteurization all the beneficial bacteria is killed anyway. Therefore, with milk it’s not about organic vs. conventional. It’s about pasteurized vs. non-pasteurized.

At the end of the day it depends on the particular food which you buy.

Which organic food are worth buying?

If you cannot buy everything organic because of limited availability or due to financial reasons, it’s not the end of the world (nor your health).

On the Environmental Working Group website you can find 2 well-arranged lists of fruits and vegetables according to the amount of pesticide residues they contain (Clean fifteen and Dirty dozen).

Dirty dozen:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Nectarines
  4. Apples
  5. Peaches
  6. Pears
  7. Cherries
  8. Grapes
  9. Celery
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Bell peppers
  12. Potatoes

Clean fifteen:

  1. Corn
  2. Avocado
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Onion
  6. Frozen peas (for the fresh one some preservatives have to be used like e.g. fungicides)
  7. Papaya
  8. Asparagus
  9. Mango
  10. Eggplant
  11. Honeydew melon
  12. Kiwi
  13. Cantaloupe melon
  14. Cauliflower
  15. Grapefruit

Those which belong to dirty dozen, buy organic. Especially if they are your favorites and you eat them often.

On the other hand, those which are part of clean fifteen doesn’t have to always be organic.

On the EWG website you can also find a more detailed list containing other kinds of fruits and vegetables.

Other very important food are meat and eggs. In conventional farming animals are usually treated badly. Living space is bad, animal feed is bad and stress is high. All that strongly affects the quality of the meat and eggs. Because of this it is especially important to buy eggs and meat of high quality.

It is definitely better to buy high quality meat less often, rather than buying it often and in a low quality. Every cell in your body will be much happier as a result.

Did I forget anything?

Hopefully not.

Organic food can contribute to our health a lot. But even among organic you can find a whole lot of overpriced products, which don’t have anything in common with healthy food. When choosing it use your common sense.

Whether organic or not the best is to buy whole food (or processed only to a minimal extent) and process them at home. You don’t have to spend a long time reading labels and thinking whether this or that food is good or if it’s bad.

Whether you want to preserve your health or to heal yourself, high quality food forms the basis, which will aid you a lot.

If you already suffer from dis-ease or disease then the next step for you is mainly to choose the right type of food that will support your body and cure it.

Český jazyk

Herbal First Aid Kit: Home Edition

 

IMG_5063
Our First Aid Kit at home is organised in drawers according to ailment.

Here is look at what is in our main First Aid Kit at home:

 

Digestion:

For an upset belly

Rosemary Tincture, Peppermint Tea, Fennel Seeds, Ginger Syrup, Peppermint Oil, Yarrow Tincture

For Constipation

Yellow Dock Tincture, Licorice Root Tea

Allergy:

Nettle Tea, Agrimony Tea, Sneeze Stopper Tincture, Bee Pollen

Diarrhea:

Agrimony Tincture, Agrimony Tea, Cinnamon Tea, Yarrow tea, Licorice Tea, Chamomile Tea

Nausea:

Cinnamon Tea, Ginger Tea, Peppermint Oil, Peppermint Tincture, Turmeric Tincture

Inflammation:

Oregano, Frankincense, Sage, Rosemary, Ginger, Turmeric Tinctures

Licorice Root Tea, Turmeric Tea

Frankincense Oil, Myrrh Oil

Goldenrod Tincture, Salve

Headache:

Valerian, Feverfew Tinctures

Feverfew, Lemonbalm, Peppermint, Lavender Teas

Lavender Oil

Headcase Roll-on applied topically

Headache Relief Tincture

Menstrual:

For PMS Symptoms

Oil of Evening Primrose Capsules

Chaste Tree, Red Clover, Sage Tinctures

For Cramps

Yarrow, Cramp Bark Tinctures

Sage, Cinnamon, Ginger Teas

Yellow Dock Tinctures

Bleeding:

Yarrow Healing Powder  or Cayenne Powder for any cut or scrape that requires a bandage to stop the bleeding

Fever:

Yarrow, Peppermint Tinctures

Fever Doctor Tea

Sore Throat:

Licorice, Marshmallow Root Teas

Cough Be Gone Tea

Sage Lozenges

Thyme Syrup

Echinacea Throat spray

Moods:

Lavender Oil

St John’s Wort, Lemonbalm, Chamomile, Lavender, Mint Teas

Zen Tonic

Valerian, Oregano, St John’s Wort, Rosemary, Sage Tinctures

Ashwagandha Tea

Wake Up Tincture (for Fatigue)

Wound Care:

Plantain Poultice

Arnica Salve, Knit-Together Salve

Healing Herbal Salve

St John’s Wort Oil, Tincture, Salve

Pain Relief:

Nettle Tea

Motherwort, Rosemary, Oregano, Frankincense, Valerian Tinctures

Cayenne Salve

Frankincense Oil

White Willow Bark Tincture

Cold and Flu:

Elderberry Syrup

Immune Harmony Tincture

Sage, Thyme, Cold Relief, Sneeze Stopper, Rose Hip Tinctures

Ginger, Turmeric, Cayenne, Licorice Root, Sage, Thyme Teas

Clear Chest Salve

Fever Doctor Tea

Echinacea Tea, Echinacea Tincture

Infection:

St John’s Wort, Yarrow, Sage, Thyme, Chamomile and Peppermint Poultices

Anti-Fungal Salve

Lavender Oil

Wormwood Tincture

Sleep:

Valerian, Passionflower Tinctures

Sleepytime Tea

Lavender Oil

Skin:

Just Hemp!, Healing Herbal, Anti-Fungal, Skin Solution, Stings and Bites, Calendula, Rash Relief Salves

Heart:

Hawthorn Tea and Tincture

Heartease Tincture

Ginger Tincture and Tea

 

Printable Herbal First Aid Kit Contents:

herbcontent pg1herbcontent pg2herbcontent pg3herbcontent pg4

Stings and Bites Salve

Clear Chest Salve

IMG_6612During a serious cold or flu, under the right circumstances, things can take a turn for the worse. The flu settles in your chest and you have a decidedly unpleasant cough that crackles, barks and is painful and exhausting. It is important that you see a doctor at this stage to avoid more serious infections.

Two of the more pressing concerns during a cold or flu this severe are how to get rest and be comfortable and how to avoid serious respiratory infections, such as bronchitis. This salve comes to the rescue in this scenario like a rock star!

The components of the Clear Chest Salve provide comfort, pain relief and a wide-spectrum antibacterial action that absorbs slowly and consistently into the chest administering medicinal constituents directly into the respiratory system where they are needed.

White Horehound, the big player in this salve, is a powerful antispasmodic, reducing the severity of the hacking cough, thus allowing you to rest more comfortably. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine and has a special affinity for infected respiratory and pulmonary systems. There is documented research on its ability to draw out mucous, phlegm and other humours from the lungs and bronchi.

Horehound_grande
White Horehound Marrubium vulgare

Clear Chest Salve

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) White Horehound-infused olive oil Infused Oil Recipe
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Sage-infused olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) Thyme-infused olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) beeswax
  • 20 drops: Eucalyptus essential oil

In a double boiler (or a pot nestled in a larger pot filled with a bit of water) over medium heat, add the oils and beeswax. 

Stir until the beeswax melts and is fully incorporated.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a moment.

Add the essential oils. Stir.

Pour into clean and sterilised jars.

Medicinal Actions:

White Horehound: tonic, aromatic, antispasmodic, anticatarrhal, draws out excess mucous from the lungs and bronchi

Sage: affinity for sore throats and cough, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, relaxant, nervine

Thyme: analgesic, antibacterial, antitussive, antispasmodic, expectorant, nervine

Eucalyptus: antibacterial, decongestant, affinity for respiratory system, anti-inflammatory

Echinacea Throat Spray

During cold and flu season it is important to take care of comfort and avoid secondary infections. This spray is a champion on both counts. We have been using this spray for many years in my family. It is adapted from a recipe in Rosemary Gladstar’s book Medicinal Herbs.

For a dry, scratchy throat, it can be very soothing. For an angry, hot and inflamed throat it can be very cooling. For a painful sore throat, it can relieve that pain quickly. It has the added benefit of three antivirals that go to work on any throat or mouth infection reducing the risk of more serious secondary infections.

I find this throat spray a necessary part of our Herbal First Aid Kit.

 

Echinacea Throat Spray

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Echinacea Tincture
  • 1/8 cup (30 ml) honey
  • 3 drops peppermint essential oil (more or less to taste)

Mix together the Echinacea tincture and honey.

Add the peppermint oil drop by drop until the spray has the right flavour for your taste. 

Pour the liquid into a spray bottle.

Shake well before each use.

Spray directly into the back of the mouth, toward the throat, once every half hour or as needed. 

Keep in the refrigerator.

This should last up to six weeks refrigerated.

 

Medicinal Actions:

Echinacea: immunostimulant, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has an affinity for bronchial and respiratory infections as well as throat and overall oral infections. It has a full complement of polysaccharides, which help protect cells against invasion by viruses and bacteria.

Peppermint: analgesic (pain relief), antiviral, antispasmodic, coolant, antibacterial, antifungal

Honey: vulnerary (wound healing), antiviral, antibacterial, high viscosity provides a barrier protecting against infection

Echinacea Tincture

           Echinacea has been the subject of extensive research for many decades. Lauded for many years as the go to cold and flu prevention plant, comprehensive research has confirmed that “Echinacea raises the body’s natural resistance to infection by stimulating and aiding immune function. It works, in part, by increasing macrophage and T-cell activity, the body’s first line of defense against foreign antigens.” -Rosemary Gladstar

As critical concerns of immune issues worldwide grow and irresponsible over-harvesting continues, ethical management of Echinacea and wild-crafting of its constituent parts must be taken into consideration when working with this powerful plant. I grow both medicinal varieties in my garden: Echinacea angustifolia and E. purpurea. I harvest the aerial parts (flower, leaf and seed) of E. purpurea and will soon harvest the root of my small E. angustifolia. When I need more root than I have, I look online for ethical sources.

Echinacea is not only a strong medicinal, but provides tons of fun for our whole family. Many days during the hot summer months, you can see the entire Coyan family participating in one of our favourite pastimes: bee petting. Bees, especially big, fat, fluffy bumblebees, are positively drunk on Echinacea. They are so overtaken by the intoxicating nature of the flower that it is possible to leisurely pet the bees as they feast on the nectar. This and looking at clouds top my list of Greatest Ever Things To Do.

20065692_1511578628902417_8606866182009520128_n.jpg

This tincture should be taken at the first sign of cold or flu, taken often and in small doses at the onset for it to be effective at warding off the illness, or a couple of times a day if you are in close proximity to others who are sick.

p-412-echinacea-ang-root-cs-wild-crafted
root of E. angustifolia

Echinacea Tincture

  • Leaves, flowers and seed of E. purpurea (dried or fresh) or root of E. angustifolia
  • Alcohol (at least 45%, brandy, vodka or Everclear 80% if using root)
  • Sterilised jar and lid

Grind or chop the plant material as finely as possible. I use my juicer to grind the dried plant material.

Add the plant material to the jar: Dried- fill 1/2 of jar

                                                             Fresh- fill the entire jar

Add the alcohol. Fill to the brim. Keep an eye on it for the next several minutes and keep adding alcohol until all the plant material is covered.

Seal well and label with the plant name, date, percent and type of alcohol and the date 6 weeks out.

Shake the jar daily and store in a cool, dark place.

After 6 weeks, strain out plant material and decant the tincture into sterilised bottles for use.

Label bottles with the tincture name.

Whole Plant Tincture

I prefer to make a tincture from the whole plant, thus I combine the root and aerial parts tinctures. This allows for the overall effectiveness of the tincture to be increased simply because different parts of the plant have differing strengths of similar properties.

 

Medicinal Actions:

Echinacea is an immunostimulant, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. It has an affinity for bronchial and respiratory infections as well as throat and overall oral infections. It has a full complement of polysaccharides, which help protect cells against invasion by viruses and bacteria. Other key constituents are: sesquiterpenes, linoleic acid, tannins, beta-carotene and Vitamin C.

Harvesting Red Clover

Yesterday, the family and I hiked to a meadow replete with Red Clover. I use Red Clover in many of my recipes: Skin Solution Salve, Detox Tea, Red Clover Tincture and many more.

On the way, we got to see a lizard, a hornet nest and some drunk woodsmen. And the girls say we never take them anywhere good.

We grabbed plastic bags and picked our year’s supply. They are waiting on trays now to be dehydrated and put into jars.

Wildcrafting here in our area is easy and abundant.